HR Horror

So, a couple of weeks back, I attended the Strategic HR Leadership Summit, a confab of human resources managers in Las Vegas. One of the off-the-agenda highlights came at an after-hours cocktail party, where a circle of HR execs started telling employee horror stories.

Like the story about the employee who, HR discovered on his demise, had forgotten to change the beneficiary of his pension and life insurance when he remarried; HR had to tell the second wife that the first wife was getting the bucks. Or the man who threatened to sue his wife’s employer for “enabling” her affair with a co-worker. Or the fast-food worker who sought to sue her employer for demanding that she tame her 14-inch-high hair. Or the one about the factory workers and the hooker–well, no, let’s not go there.

Anyway, some hilarious stuff. HR people have senses of humor, it turns out. Except, of course, when they don’t.

Which leads me to ask: What are your favorite HR horror stories? How has HR failed you, or your company, or both? When has HR been spectacularly inefficient, or spectacularly ineffective–or ineffective in the name of efficiency?

Alternatively, what are some examples of HR greatness? How do we know when human resources is doing its job really well?